Marie Bertrand, founder of SkinScience Clinic

“I have a sunburn. What now?”

It’s a good question, Calgary. In fact, it’s such a good question that, when I answered it the first time in my original blog, it landed me a spot on CTV live!

Because the emphasis is on “staycations” this summer due to COVID-19, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind. After all, how burned can you get in our own backyard, right? Wrong!

In light of needing to remain in our communities this summer, I’ve buckled down to update my original “So You Got a Sunburn… Now What?” guide to keep your skin glowing all summer long.

Sunburn Tip #1: Be Sun-Savvy

As mentioned in “Sun Protection: So Much More Than Sunscreen” published earlier this month, education is everything when it comes to sun protection. The days of thinking that you can slather on the after-sun and your skin won’t reap the detriments of a sunburn are, I hope, long gone: frequently applying high-quality mineral sunscreen, covering up when you can, and being mindful of the amount of time spent out in the sun are essential for sunburn prevention.

However, life happens, and I know that (regrettably!) sunburn prevention isn’t always achievable. All it takes is one missed application and boom, your skin is itchy, red, peeling, and damaged. While I stress that you bookmark this blog as a reminder to take your sun protection seriously, let’s move on to my top-recommended tips for how to best conduct damage control after a sunburn has occurred. 

Sunburn Tip #2: Stay Out of the Sun and Take a Cool Bath

If we burned our hand we wouldn’t stick it straight back into the fire, right? Think of sun exposure in the same way! Reapply your mineral sunscreen of choice consistently and take a cool bath to soothe your skin. 

A bonus pro tip? Add oatmeal to your bath for extra immediate sunburn relief. Adding colloidal oatmeal to your bath forms a protective barrier around your skin and retains moisture, effectively alleviating inflammation.

Sunburn Tip #3: Get Creative With Aloe Vera Gel Ice Cubes

Think ice cubes are a great idea for sunburn relief? Take it one step further by switching them out for aloe vera! 

Quick, easy, and effective, putting over-the-counter aloe vera gel in ice cube trays and, once frozen, slide them onto the affected area to both quicken healing time and provide short-term relief.

Sunburn Tip #4: Whip Out a Cool Compress and Take Some Over-the-Counter Ibuprofen

Sometimes, keeping it old-school with a cold compress and some Advil is the most effective route to minimizing discomfort post-sunburn: Advil acts as a pain reliever, while a cold compress applied to the affected area helps to alleviate redness and burning. 

My favourite back when I published the original this blog was Avene Thermal Spa Water, and that recommendation still stands! When sprayed on soft cotton compress, cooled, and then applied to sunburnt areas, this anti-inflammatory thermal water is my go-to for sunburn relief.

Sunburn Tip #5: Soothe Your Skin With an Emollient Cream and Stay Hydrated

Moisturizing parched, peeling, and itchy skin is crucial during the sunburn recovery process, so storing your emollient cream of choice in the fridge for that extra cooling sensation can’t be recommended enough. Simple? Perhaps, but it can’t be overstated! Staying moisturized topically and ensuring that you’re hydrating your body are key steps towards a quick healing process.

Sunburn Tip #6: Remember That the Best Vitamin D for You is Produced by Natural Sunlight

Vitamin D promotes healthy bones, a bolstered immune system, insulin level regulation, strong lung and cardiovascular health, and boosting one’s mood; your body absorbs Vitamin D best through sun exposure, not Vitamin D in foods, topicals, or supplements, so don’t avoid the sun just because you had a bad experience! Put today’s tips in your back pocket and go reap the benefits of Vitamin D this summer: you need only ten to fifteen minutes of exposure on a small area of your skin (even just the back of your hand!) to get all the Vitamin D you need for the day.

Prevent Sunburns by Being Sun Safe, Calgary!

Reach out to SkinScience Clinic today to set up a personal consultation or book an appointment to get summer-ready, and remember: enjoy summer responsibility! Your skin will thank you.

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